Roy Keane’s brief stint as Nottingham Forest assistant manager is over


Former Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane has stepped down as Nottingham Forest assistant boss to resurrect his managerial career.

The Cork man spent just five months at the City Ground, where he was working as Martin O’Neill’s number two.

Keane has previously managed Sunderland and Ipswich Town and is now seeking a new job.

A statement from the club read: “Nottingham Forest can confirm that assistant manager Roy Keane has left the club.

“Roy would like to express his gratitude to the club’s owner, board of directors, the staff, the players and in particular manager Martin O’Neill for the opportunity to return to the City Ground.”

Keane has not held a senior management position since leaving Ipswich Town in 2011, having worked in an assistant capacity with the Republic of Ireland, Aston Villa and Forest over the last five-and-a-half years.

He has previously admitted he is keen on landing a top job and has taken the decision to end his association with O’Neill, whom he also worked alongside in the Irish coaching set-up.

“Working with Martin over the last few years has been a magnificent experience, one of my greatest in football both as a player and a coach and one I want to personally thank him for,” Keane said in a statement.

Forest finished ninth in the Championship last season, eight points adrift of the play-offs.

Keane was a fans favourite at the City Ground as a young professional, beginning his career in England with Forest in the 1990s before being bought by Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United for £3.5 million.

His managerial career began brightly at the Stadium of Light in 2006 when, following massive investment from Niall Quinn’s Drumaville Consortium he guided Sunderland to promotion to the Premier League in his first season, but he suffered a disappointing follow-up spell at Ipswich Town, whom he failed to lead out of the Championship.

Kerry hold off Cork to retain Munster senior football crown but there’s hope for the Rebels

Kerry are Munster champions for the 81st time but Peter Keane’s team left Pairc Ui Chaoimh with at least as many questions as answers.

 

In front of just 18,265, one of the poorest crowds to watch a Munster SFC final in the last 40 years, Cork came to within a whisker of puling off a major shock. As it was Kerry did just enough to get by.

They roll into the ‘Super 8s’ as Munster champions as was widely expected but only after the Rebels delivered a much more stern examination than they had been expected to.

The Rebels had four clear cut opportunities to raise green flags in the first half. Luke Connolly pulled his shot wide from a tight angle after 16 minutes before Kerry goalkeeper Shane Ryan denied Ruairi Deane after he tore through the middle of the Kerry defence.

It wouldn’t be the first time the Kingdom would look vulnerable at the back.

The second half went along similar lines. Kerry looked good going forward but the looked vulnerable at the back with Cork seemingly convinced a goal was on every time they moved forward.

Cork’s wastefulness in front of goal was to be their downfall on the evening, especially considering that the Kingdom played more than 15 minutes with 14 men following Paul Geaney’s sending off as Kerry held on to win on a 3-10 to 1-19 scoreline. There is hope for the future for Cork football after this performance though.

Cork golfer James Sugrue wins British Amateur Championship

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Mallow’s James Sugrue savoured success on home soil to win The 124th Amateur Championship at Portmarnock Golf Links on the outskirts of Dublin this evening.

The Irishman thrilled around 3,000 spectators at the renowned course to defeat Scotland’s Euan Walker in an exciting 36-hole final. Sugrue was five up after nine holes but was forced to survive Walker’s sterling comeback to all square before clinching a one-hole win on the final green.

Played in glorious weather, Sugrue’s fast start and sharp short game skills proved key as the Mallow member became the first Irish player to win the famous title since Alan Dunbar in 2012.

By virtue of his triumph, the 22-year-old gained exemptions into The 148th Open at Royal Portrush next month, the 2020 US Open at Winged Foot and, by tradition, an invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.

On playing in The 148th Open at Royal Portrush, 22 year-old Sugrue said: “I can’t wait. It’s unreal. I’m really looking forward to it. I love Royal Portrush, it’s probably one of my favourite links courses, second favourite to Portmarnock. With the other major championship opportunities, it’s incredible to think about it and I’m really looking forward to what lies ahead.”

Sugrue is the eighth Irish winner of The British Amateur and joins a list of past champions that include major winners José María Olazábal, Sergio Garcia and, more recently, Matteo Manassero and Romain Langasque.

25 years on from one of the most famous days in Irish sport

25 years ago today, Ray Houghton scored *that* goal for the Republic of Ireland against Italy at the Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey to give the Republic of Ireland its first ever win at the finals of a World Cup.

To put that into context, since then, the Republic of Ireland has only ever won one further match at the World Cup, that a 3-0 win over minnows Saudi Arabia back in 2002.

In 1994, it was becoming something of a habit for Houghton to score an early huge goal for his country in major tournaments with him having scored the only goal of the game against England at the Republic of Ireland’s first ever appearance at a major senior international football tournament, that being the 1988 UEFA European Championships.

Houghton’s goal against Italy was, like the one against England, opportunistic, coming when an unusually misplaced Franco Baresi header fell into his path and he shinned the ball perfectly over the head of Azzurri goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca and into the back of the net after 11 minutes of play.

What was to follow was to be a masterclass of a display from Aston Villa centre-back Paul McGrath, The Black Pearl of Inchicore.

1993 FIFA World Player of the Year Roberto Baggio – who would go on to drag Italy to the final of that 1994 World Cup – hardly got a kick on the night. Lazio star Pepe Signori also saw very little of the ball on that hot and humid evening, despite him having been Serie A’s leading goalscorer that (and the previous) season, again, largely thank to Paul McGrath, though players such as Roy Keane and Steve Staunton also deserves credit for stellar performances on the evening. A frustrated Signori ended up being substituted late on that evening.

Serie A was comfortably the strongest league in the world at that time, with AC Milan having hammered Barcelona 4-0 in the 1994 UEFA Champions League final just a few weeks earlier and of course that Italian team comprised of a plethora of Milan stars.

The Irish had been apprehensive going into the match, as New York is very much an Italian/American stronghold and it was expected that the vast majority of the 75,000+ crowd would be wearing Azzurri blue, but when the teams walked out into the heat of that East Rutherford early evening (with the pale Steve Staunton famously wearing a baseball cap and copious quantities of sunscreen and dousing his head with a wet towel during the match), they were greeted with almost wall-to-wall green and very loud chants of “Low Lie The Fields of Athenry…”

That first match of the 1994 World Cup was to prove to be the high point of that tournament for the Republic of Ireland (and indeed, the nation hasn’t quite reached that level of heights at major tournaments since, albeit draws against Germany and Spain in 2002 come close) as the midday Orlando heat which two of Ireland’s next three matches back in 1994 were played in was to prove difficult for Irish legs.

Netherlands would eventually knock the Irish out in the Round of 16 in the Orlando heat, the Oranje winning by two goals to nil, albeit Packie Bonner dropped an awful clanger for the second Dutch goal and Paul McGrath scored a fantastic late goal for Ireland which was wrongly disallowed.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that June 18th 1994 was the day of the Loughlinisland massacre in Co. Down, when six men who were watching the Republic of Ireland v Italy match in a pub were shot dead in cold blood by the UVF, just a couple of months before the IRA ceasefire. Nobody has ever been convicted of those murders. May those six men rest in peace.

Surprise as Stephen Henderson leaves Cobh Ramblers

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In the SSE Airtricity League of Ireland First Division last night, Cobh Ramblers beat Galway United 2-1 at St. Colman’s Park but the surprise of the night came after the final whistle when it was announced that Rams’ manager Stephen Henderson had tendered his resignation yesterday afternoon with last night’s match his final game in charge.

The club’s budget had been reduced this season but it is not currently clear if that was a factor in Henderson’s departure from the club.

Henderson didn’t stay at St. Colman’s Park for his usual media duties last night. The Dubliner comes from a famous family of goalkeepers including brother Wayne who played for the Republic of Ireland senior international team and also son Stephen who currently plays for Nottingham Forest.

Henderson leaves Ramblers having re-established them as a League of Ireland club in his second spell in charge having taken over the club again back in 2015. His greatest achievement as Ramblers manager is widely thought to have been guiding the club to promotion to the League of Ireland Premier Division during his first spell in charge of the club (which lasted from 2004-2008) back in 2007.

The 53 year-old leaves the Rams with the club sitting in seventh place in the League of Ireland First Division table, on 19 points from 17 games, ten points off the promotion play-off places with ten games still to play this season.

The club have said that an interim manager will be appointed in the coming days and that the club will engage in a thorough recruitment process in finding Stephen’s permanent successor.

 

 

 

Ronan O’Gara moves closer to home as he becomes La Rochelle head coach

Former Ireland and British & Irish Lions fly-half and Cork native Ronan O’Gara has been appointed head coach at French Top 14 club La Rochelle.

O’Gara will take up the role after leaving New Zealand club Crusaders at the end of the Super Rugby season.

The Corkman has been attack coach at Crusaders for the past two seasons.

O’Gara’s La Rochelle position will see him working under the club’s director of rugby – former Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes.

La Rochelle reached this season’s Top 14 semi-finals and European Challenge Cup final but needed a new head coach following Xavier Garbajosa’s move to Montpellier.

After the Munster man’s playing career ended, O’Gara spent almost five years in assistant coaching roles with French club Racing 92.

“He [O’Gara] knows the Top 14 well, he has experience. He will bring a high level of skill,” said Gibbes.

The Irishman had the option of staying on in his Crusaders role for a third season.

O’Gara said last month that he had held talks with Munster but had told the Irish province he wasn’t interested in a backroom role with the management team of Johann van Graan.

With 128 caps, O’Gara holds the record for the most points scored for Ireland and holds the fourth highest total points haul in the world.

He played for the British and Irish Lions on their 2001, 2005 and 2009 tours and also captained Munster, Ireland and the Lions.

Hopefully O’Gara’s next month will be back to Cork to take the Munster Rugby head coach role in a few years’ time.

Mick McCarthy in bullish and entertaining form following tough Ireland win over Gibraltar

A larger than usual media presence in the press conference room at the Aviva Stadium immediately after the Republic of Ireland’s 2-0 win over Gibraltar suggested that journalists were interested to hear what the Republic of Ireland manager’s summation of the night’s events would be.

Critics were, as they tend to be, critical on the night. Many with Irish interests were demanding “A 5-0 win or more for The Boys in Green“. Considering how deep Gibraltar defended throughout the evening, a scoreline that would fill a hand of digits was always going to be unlikely.

And so it proved. The home side huffed and puffed all night and were totally dominant for virtually the entire 96 minutes, but struggled to break down a packed defense.

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy was initially asked after the match if he felt frustrated on the night.
His response: “No, I wasn’t frustrated with the game. Did they get in our box in the 90 minutes? I’m not sure. (Georgia had one half-blocked shot from Walker from five yards outside the Ireland box which Randolph saved easily). We’ve been profligate, wasteful and couldn’t deliver the final pass.”

It was brought up to the Ireland manager if his side might regret not scoring more goals against comfortably the weakest nation in the group, to which McCarthy replied:
“I think you all have been very disrespectful to Gibraltar. We weren’t expecting a free-flowing festival of football. At the end of the group, if it comes down to goal difference and we miss out on goal difference, I might regret it (not scoring more against Gibraltar) then.”
As so often happens with Mick McCarthy, the questioning took a humorous. The 60 year-old was asked: “You didn’t make a third substitution tonight. Why didn’t you?”

“I didn’t want to” being the succinct reply!

You didn’t make a third substitution tonight Mick. Why didn’t you?”

Mick McCarthy: “I didn’t want to!”

“I think Calum Robinson played well but I had to take him off. Everyone except Didsy (McGoldrick) hasn’t had much game time.”
McCarthy said that he was pleased with the current Ireland haul of 10 points from the four first qualifying matches, that 10 points from the first four matches was his target at the start of the campaign at what is now the midway point of the UEFA Euro 2020 qualification campaign.
The man who captained Ireland to the quarter-final of the 1990 World Cup was pushed repeatedly into what his points target is for the second half of the qualification campaign but he would not enter into such wondering.
McCarthy moved on to say that he was amazed at the reaction in the dressing room immediately after the match, everyone seemed like they were not happy. “I’m happy, we’ve got 10 points and I’m off my holiday” being his summation.
McCarthy alluded to the fact that he’d like if the game-plan had been implemented a little better and if the many, many crosses (45 in total from Ireland) could have been more incisive.
Performance wise, what would McCarthy be looking to improve on going forward?
“We’ve had two disappointing performances against Gibraltar. I don’t expect Switzerland to play as defensively minded. The Switzerland games will be very different. They’ll come out to play. Gibraltar were happy to defend for the entire match, even when they were losing. Switzerland won’t play like that, they’ll come out to play which will naturally leave gaps in their final third and we’ll aim to exploit that,” was McCarthy’s response.
“What happened the team bus on the way to the game?”
“It broke down.”
“Can you elaborate on that please?”
“It wouldn’t go any further!”
Finally, McCarthy was asked if he had watched and been monitoring the Republic of Ireland Under-21s at the Toulon Tournament and he referred to the expected “goal-fest” the underage team were expecting to inflict on Bahrain going into the third game:
“Yeah, I watched yesterday’s game. China beat Bahrain (and Ireland beat China 4-1 in the first match) so I bet everyone was expecting a goal-fest yesterday when Ireland played Bahrain and it wasn’t a goal-fest. Won 1-nil, missed a penalty and other chances and it wasn’t a goal-fest but they’re in the semi-final.”